Love – it’s what makes the world go round. We have all experienced it in various forms. There are thousands of songs and poems about it. It is everywhere and our lives are empty without it.

There are four different Greek words used to describe love:

  • STORGE (affection – as between a parent and a child)
  • PHILEO (friendship – as between people who share a common interest)
  • EROS (erotic – as between two lovers)
  • AGAPE (God’s love – as between God and a person)

The passage of scripture I want us to explore is 1 JOHN 4: 7-20

It tells us about the AGAPE type of love. Every time we see the word “love” in this passage we understand that the word used in the original text is AGAPE (the kind of love that God has for us):

7  Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.

Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.

8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

9  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.

10 This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

12  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.

14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.

15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.

16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

19 We love each other because he loved us first.

20 If someone says, “I love God”, but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people who we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?

What does this word mean?

  1. It is a love that knows no barriers – racial, social, educational or intellectual.
    It reaches out indiscriminately.
  2. It reaches down. Normal humans love either reaches out or up e.g. to those who are in my social class, or to those who are above me, but agape reaches down – to its enemy, to those who it would naturally find repulsive.
  3. This love, by its nature, gives. It gives, not because of the object of its gift but because of the kind of love it is. It asks no return.
  4. It has its roots in an Old Testament word which means “I bow my neck to you” – a serving, giving attitude.
  5. It is not a casual love, it is a committed love – not merely based on emotion. God doesn’t feel love, He is love. It will never leave nor forsake you. It means that when the whole world has walked out on me, agape will not forsake me. Agape means even if I disagree with you, I won’t walk out on you.
  6. Note: Verse 7 – Let us love (agape) one another, for love (agape) is from God. (i.e. out of the very heart of God). This word is the summing up of the character of God, it is the very nature of God, a God who reaches down to the world indiscriminately. He gives to us not because we are good, but because He is agape. He loves you not because you are loveable, but because He is love, He comes with “bent neck” to serve you with salvation. All you have to do is accept
  7. If God is love (agape) human beings can never produce this kind of love by themselves. This love is not born of the natural person. When the Bible speaks of love it does not mean that Christians have a lot more love than the world has, it means that we have a different kind of love altogether, that is not remotely related to worldly love. We have become a new race – born again – the church has never really realised the radical implications of this.
  8. The final definition of agape is the cross of Jesus. We cannot speak of the love of God outside of the crucifixion. Think of Jesus in His humanity when you think of His death on the cross. The choice He made in the garden of Gethsemane was agape in action. In the upper room, He washed the disciples feet with “bent neck” including Peter and Judas who would deny and betray Him.

Let us be grateful that God “agapes” us and out of this gratitude, let us “agape” one another.